Paschimottanasana or Seated Forward Bend in English is one of the foremost Hatha yoga asanas or forms. The Sanskrit word Paschimottanasana unites ‘paschima’, denoting back, ‘uttana’ for stretch, and ‘asana’ which means seat or posture.
Beneficial against anxiety and depression, combined with deep breathing, Paschimottanasana relaxes the mind leading to an enhanced spiritual and meditative experience. Refer to the main article to learn more about the Paschimottanasana, how to practice it and its benefits.
Paschimottanasana happens to be a classic yoga pose which means ‘Seated Forward Bend’ pose in English. This pose involves the practitioners folding the top half of their body over their seated lower half. In order to successfully practise this pose, practitioners are required to be mentally focused and flexible. When practising this pose, your entire body is stretched, including your calves, hamstrings, and your spine. In this article, let’s find out the types of Paschimottanasana, the steps and some precautions to consider while performing this yoga pose!
You can incorporate the following variations when you attempt to practise Paschimottanasana such that you don’t strain your muscles:
In case you find it hard to place your legs on the floor without bending your knees, you can use a prop to support your knees and place it below them. This prop could be a blanket or a flat pillow. If you feel any strain on your chest or lower abdomen, you can place this prop on your thighs such that when you stretch forward, you can breathe with greater ease.
In order to thoroughly stretch your body in this pose, you are required to hold your toes. If you aren’t able to do this, you can use a strap around your feet and hold onto it. This strap will provide you with additional support and will help you execute the Paschimottanasana yoga pose better.
In the event you find it hard to focus on your breath as your hamstrings feel tight, you could perform this pose with bent knees. Furthermore, you could sit on a pillow which will lift up your hips and allow you to reach your toes.
Follow this Paschimottanasana step-by-step guide given below in order to successfully practise the yoga pose:
Step 1: You can start by positioning your body in the seated ‘staff pose’ (or Dandasana) such that your legs are placed straight in front of your body.
Step 2: Make sure your spine is erect and that your toes are flexed towards your torso.
Step 3: As you breathe in, slowly move your arms up over your head and stretch them upwards.
Step 4: Once you begin to exhale, move your body forward from your hip joint such that your chin moves towards your toes.
Step 5: Now, based on how much you are able to stretch, you must hold either your ankles or your shins. If possible, you must hold your toes and pull on them gently to help you bend forward.
Step 6: Maintain this position as long as it is comfortable for you to do so.
Step 7: Once you are unable to hold this position any longer, inhale and move your upper body upwards by stretching your arms straight up above your head.
Step 8: Exhale and bring your arms down such that your palms touch the ground.
Paschimottanasana benefits the body in many different ways, particularly if it is practised on a regular basis. Listed below are some of the key benefits associated with this yoga pose:
This yoga posture helps stretch the spine and shoulders along with the lower back, hamstring, and hips. Moreover, the calf and thigh muscles are also stretched and strengthened.
Practitioners who perform Paschimottanasana on a regular basis will find that it helps massage and tone the abdominal as well as pelvic organs. Practising Paschimottanasana yoga correctly can help reduce the fat around the abdomen and tone it.
Provided this yoga pose is practised from time to time, it can help with improving the functioning of your liver, kidneys, ovaries, and uterus.
The Paschimottanasana yoga pose helps relax the mind and reduces stress and anxiety. It also helps relieve a headache.
Pain and discomfort caused by menstruation are greatly reduced as this pose lowers fatigue and increases blood flow.
It is important that as beginners try Paschimottanasana, you do not overexert yourself. If you find it hard to practise the Paschimottanasana yoga pose, you can lift their knees up a bit in order to be more comfortable. This pose is initially hard to master as the muscles in the legs are tight. Once beginners start practising this pose with regularity, they will become more flexible and will be able to do this pose with greater ease.
Once you are flexible enough, you can do 3-4 rounds of Paschimottanasana in one sitting. You must ensure that you do not overexert yourself while doing this yoga pose as it puts a fair amount of pressure on your back and your abdomen.
Before you practise the Seated Forward Bend pose, it is recommended that you take into account these precautions for Paschimottanasana pose:
In case you have suffered from an injury to your back, arms, ankles or hip in recent times, you should not attempt to perform this yoga pose.
Pregnant women should not go all the way down and keep their feet apart while practising Paschimottanasana.
If you have a herniated disc or any other disc-related issues, Paschimottanasana should be avoided as it puts pressure on your lower back.
As a beginner, avoid forcing yourself into this yoga pose.
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Two benefits associated with the practise of Paschimottanasana are as follows.
Stress-Buster – This yoga pose helps relax the mind and reduces feelings of stress and anxiety. It also helps relieve a headache.
Helps Reduce Pain – Pain and discomfort caused by menstruation and menopause are greatly reduced with the aid of this yoga pose.
You must not practise Paschimottanasana if you are pregnant.
Paschimottanasana is best practised early in the morning as your mind is fresh and you can concentrate best when you first wake up.
No, you should not practise Paschimottanasana after eating a meal. You should only practise this yoga pose on an empty stomach.
Paschimottanasana falls under the Hatha yoga branch of yoga.